I'm getting complaints that I'm boring & all the commenters are interesting. Couldn't agree more. -- Constant Weader
Hans Nichols of Bloomberg News: "Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has emerged as the leading candidate to become Obama's next Secretary of Defense and may be nominated as soon as this month, according to two people familiar with the matter. Hagel, who served as an enlisted Army infantryman in Vietnam, has passed the vetting process at the White House Counsel's office, said one of the people. The former Nebraska senator has told associates that he is awaiting final word from the president, said the other person."
Greg Sargent: "The Senate Democratic leadership is announcing today that [Elizabeth] Warren will be given a seat on the Senate Banking Committee."
Another Big Win for Mitt. Angie Holan of PolitiFact: "Lie of the Year: the Romney campaign's ad on Jeeps made in China.... PolitiFact has selected Romney's claim that Barack Obama 'sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China' at the cost of American jobs as the 2012 Lie of the Year.... And they stood by the claim, even as the media and the public expressed collective outrage against something so obviously false."
Fabulous News out of Washington: Joe Lieberman gave his final Senate speech Wednesday. Something about compromise and bipartisanship. But the fabulous news is Joe Lieberman gave his final Senate speech Wednesday.
Felicia Sonmez & David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "The conservative groups that supported Michigan's new 'right to work' law -- winning a stunning victory over unions, even in the heart of American labor -- vowed Wednesday to replicate that success elsewhere. But the search for the next Michigan could be difficult. National unions, caught flat-footed in the Wolverine State, pledged to offer fierce opposition wherever the idea crops up next.... In addition, few Republican governors who could enact such legislation seem eager to bring the fight to their states." CW: I think the writers are underestimating the persuasive powers of the Koch boys. ...
... E. J. Dionne: "... the way Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and the Republican Michigan Legislature rushed right-to-work through a lame-duck session was insidious.... Snyder had avoided taking a stand on right-to-work until just last week, when he miraculously discovered that it would be a first-rate economic development measure. The law was included as part of an appropriations bill to make it much harder for voters to challenge it in a referendum. The political motivation here is obvious. Union families are the premier cross-racial Democratic constituency. Nationwide, President Obama carried union households by 18 points but non-union households by only one point -- a 'union gap' of 17 points. In Michigan, the union gap was an astonishing 32 points: Obama won union households 66 percent to 33 percent, the rest of the electorate by 50 percent to 49 percent."
Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Harold Koh, the top lawyer in the State Department, will step down early next year and return to teaching at Yale Law School, a department official said on Wednesday. His impending departure is part of a major overhaul in the Obama administration's national security legal policy team, including the announcement last week that the Pentagon general counsel, Jeh C. Johnson, is resigning."
Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times: "There will be no big star-studded concert on the National Mall to celebrate President Obama's second inauguration next month, several of his inaugural planners said Wednesday.... Mr. Obama, mindful of the difficult economy, has set a more low-key tone for his 2013 inaugural festivities."
Linda Greenhouse makes a compelling argument that the DOMA & Prop 8 cases the Supremes have agreed to hear are not about gay marriage but about standing; i.e., whether the parties in the cases have the capacity to bring suit as outlined in Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution. CW: so my little prediction that the Supremes will "do the right thing" may be moot; they may do nothing, thus leaving the status quo, well, status quo.
Greg Sargent: "I spoke this morning to an official familiar with the fiscal cliff talks. He tells me that ever since Republicans rejected the first White House fiscal offer, White House negotiators have been asking Republicans to detail both the spending cuts they want and the loopholes and deductions they would close to raise revenues while avoiding a hike in tax rates for the rich. According to the official, Republicans continue to refuse to answer.... How on earth can there be any progress under these circumstances?"
The "Logic" of Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age. Paul Krugman: "When I look at this whole discussion I keep thinking of a line from 'Yes, Minister': 'We must do something. This is something. Therefore we must do it.' And there's a real possibility that this kind of logic will lead to huge suffering for hundreds of thousands of older Americans.... It would inflict vast hardship on the most vulnerable, while saving the federal government remarkably little money, and would actually raise overall health spending, basically because private insurers have much higher administrative costs and much less bargaining power than Medicare...."
Boehner Forgets Who Won the Election Again. Dana Bash of CNN: "One of the reasons Tuesday night's conversation between President Barack Obama and John Boehner did not go well was because the GOP House speaker sent the White House a fiscal cliff proposal calling for a permanent extension of Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, including for incomes in the top 2%, a Democratic source said Wednesday." ...
... The Republican War on Christmas. Robert Schoeder: "With the fiscal cliff unresolved and the clock ticking, House Speaker John Boehner is telling his fellow Republicans not to make holiday-season plans, reports said." The House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said basically the same thing.
I'm getting increasingly concerned that one of the reasons the Speaker is deciding to, I think, string out these discussions is that he wants to wait til January 3 when the election for Speaker takes place. -- Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland)
Jonathan Chait: "When the only cuts on the table would inflict real harm on people with modest incomes and save small amounts of money, that is a sign that there's just not much money to save.... The spending cuts aren't there because they can't be found." And Republicans don't seem to understand this.
Oh, there are ways to cut back. Laura Gottesediener of AlterNet list seven "absurd ways the military wastes taxpayer dollars.... There are 963 generals and admirals in the U.S. armed forces....
... each top commander has his own C-40 jet, complete with beds on board. Many have chefs who deserve their own four-star restaurants. The generals' personal staff include drivers, security guards, secretaries, and people to shine their shoes and iron their uniforms. When traveling, they can be accompanied by police motorcades that stretch for blocks. When entertaining, string quartets are available at a snap of the fingers. A New York Times analysis showed that simply the staff provided to top generals and admirals can top $1 million -- per general. That's not even including their own salaries -- which are relatively modest due to congressional legislation -- and the free housing, which has been described as 'palatial.'
Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post : Monday, the White House backed off its 2011 proposal to allow $17.9BB in Medicaid cuts. Kliff explains how the Supremes accidentally saved Medicaid from cuts.
Max Read of Gawker: "Steven Crowder, the frequent Fox News contributor and YouTube comedia[n]..., insert[ed] himself in the middle of a tense argument between protestors and staffers of Americans for Prosperity, the anti-union group funded by libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch. And then he got punched in the face." Crowder was whining about it on Fox "News" yesterday, but Read thinks he should take his licks for getting "between billionaire-funded know-nothing ideologues and people whose livelihoods and stability are being threatened by the insatiable greed of the super-rich and the blind extremism of their wooden-headed political allies. In exchange, liberals will buy you a band-aid ... re-iterate that Punching Is Bad." ...
Punching is bad. -- Constant Weader ...
... Not surprisingly, it appears Crowder faked what actually happened, editing the video to make events that happened hours apart appear to be sequential.
AND Adam Sandler puts in a performance at the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief:
New York Times: "Susan E. Rice, the Obama administration's ambassador to the United Nations, has withdrawn her name from consideration for secretary of state, in the face of relentless opposition from Republicans in Congress over her role in the aftermath of the deadly attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya."
New York Times: "The Swiss financial giant UBS is close to finalizing a settlement with authorities over the manipulation of interest rates, a deal that is expected to include at least $1 billion in fines. UBS is in discussions with United States, British and Swiss authorities, and an announcement could come as early as Monday...."
New York Times: "N. Joseph Woodland, who six decades ago drew a set of lines in the sand and in the process conceived the modern bar code, died on Sunday at his home in Edgewater, N.J. He was 91." Read the obit.
New York Times: "European leaders gathering [in Brussels, Belgium] on Thursday for their year-end summit meeting hailed an agreement to place euro zone banks under a single supervisor, calling it a concrete measure to maintain the viability of the currency as well as a step in laying the groundwork for a broader economic union."
New York Times: "Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's top envoy for Syria, said on Thursday that President Bashar al-Assad's government was losing control of the country and might be defeated by rebel forces."
Reuters: "North Korea's next step after rattling the world by putting a satellite into orbit for the first time will likely be a nuclear test, the third conducted by the reclusive and unpredictable state. A nuclear test would be the logical follow-up to Wednesday's successful rocket launch, analysts said."
AP: "A nurse duped by a hoax call from Australian DJs about the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was found hanging in her room and left three notes, a coroner's inquest was told Thursday."